A guide to finding addiction help during lockdown and how to care for ourselves
During the lockdown, you may have found that a distance from society has left you feeling lonely. You might just keep yourself busy and hope it passes soon. But if you are suffering from addiction or recovering from it, finding the right addiction help during lockdown is more important than ever.
Rather than creeping deeper into an inner vacuum, and possibly even denying there is an addiction problem, it’s important to maintain communication with as many people as you can to conquer addiction together.
In Essex, there are supportive treatment options you can attend to provide addiction help and aftercare during lockdown, which is part of this guide to addiction services in Essex. There are, of course, various addiction centres across the UK.
What is addiction?
Addiction means you have no control over doing something, even if it causes you harm.
Addictive substances or behaviours, such as alcohol or gambling, release dopamine in the brain, which make you feel relaxed. Sometimes, this can cause an alteration in brain functions; this means if you stop taking the substance then your body will develop cravings for it – which is an intense physical or psychological need for the feeling it gives you.
You should also be aware that some pharmaceuticals are also addictive and doctors are being advised not to prescribe certain medications for chronic pain such as opioids and even paracetamol.
How does addiction affect our everyday life?
Drinking alcohol often ends with nothing more than a headache. However, developing an addiction means alcohol will become the centre point of your life, and everything you do will revolve around consuming more to feel ‘high’.
Many addictive products relax the body and lower reaction times, which could put you in danger if driving or operating machinery. Frequent drug use also increases the likelihood of losing interest or concern in major things, which can impact your relationships and career.
If you become accustomed to a substance, you’ll need to take higher doses of it to experience that euphoric sensation. Not only does this have dangerous health consequences, but this cycle affects family relationships, concentration at work and school, and causes mental health issues.
Is addiction treatment affected by the COVID-19 lockdown?
COVID-19 has had a substantial economic impact on businesses, meaning some rehabilitation centres have temporarily closed to prevent the spread of the virus. The NHS has also become overwhelmed with the number of new addiction cases driven by worry, overwork, or a sense of disconnection while stuck at home.
Although addiction help during lockdown has been severely impacted, luckily, there are rehabilitation clinics which have remained serving the Essex and across the UK and have excellent safety measures in place to continue treating patients through their journey.
What is recovery?
Recovery is the process of overcoming an addiction. Recovery is a continuous journey as, for some, addiction never fully goes away; learning to control addiction makes it easier to manage each day.
Mutual support is instrumental in helping people through recovery.
There are support groups such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) which offer a safe space to open up about any successes, concerns and setbacks, and listen to others in a similar position. Sharing stories reminds you that you are not alone and offers you a support network to lean on if you have a bad day.
How to stay sober during the pandemic
Uncertainty and distance from loved ones during the epidemic can increase the chance of relapse (going back to an addiction). To stay sober at this trying time, try to remain in a positive mindset. Join as many online support meetings as possible or attend socially distanced gatherings and avoid anything that makes you feel anxious.
It also helps to be aware of likely setbacks. Keeping a diary of any developments or making a list of high-risk situations and reading it to others in recovery will help you stay aware and improve your progress.
Finding people to talk to
Although we have been asked to socially distance for our safety, it’s essential to connect with other people to look after your mental health and retain a positive mindset.
In addition to online support groups, you can stay in touch with people via Facebook groups and Zoom. However, it is often better to avoid the more general noise and negativity on social media as this can add to feelings of depression and inadequacy and trigger addictive tendencies.
Physically mixing with close friends and loved ones in safe numbers also makes a significant improvement to recovery and discourages you from disconnecting with supportive peers.
If you would like any further information and support then here are some useful links: